MK Rabbi Gafni Proposes That Coronavirus Fines Go to People Who Suffered From Virus

A man wears a face mask in Bnei Brak. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

The chairman of the Knesset’s Finance Committee, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), submitted draft legislation that would establish a state fund into which would be channeled all the fine monies levied from non-compliance with coronavirus laws.

According to the terms of Rabbi Gafni’s proposal, the funds would then be paid out to individuals and companies who have sustained damage as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee began deliberations on the “New Coronavirus Law – Enforcement,” ahead of its second and third readings in the Knesset plenum.

During the discussion, Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher (United Torah Judaism) and other MKs expressed their objection to the bill which calls to raise the fine for not wearing a face mask in public from NIS 200 to NIS 500. The bill has passed its first reading in the Knesset plenum.

“I do not plan to vote for or support raising the fine to NIS 500. It’s excessive,”  Chairman MK Rabbi Asher said. “I plan to examine what can be done, but the number won’t be NIS 499 either.” He called to increase enforcement all over the country and give more powers to inspectors.

MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid-Telem) said, “The government is conducting itself in a crazy manner, and the flood of emergency regulations that is sent here creates chaos…. Raising the fine to NIS 500 during an economic crisis will not increase enforcement, it will increase suicides.”

MK Yoav Segalovitz (Yesh Atid-Telem) said, “You cannot constantly wear the public down, particularly when there is no personal example. People are protesting because they have nothing to eat, so raise the fine? When the police had enforcement powers the public was disciplined and the police enforced. Why raise the fine to NIS 500 and add more powers to the inspectors? This is the privatization of enforcement to nonexpert elements.”

Chief Superintendent Eyal Reon, head of the Israel Police Operations Unit, said “we are in the field with the citizens every day and we feel the difficulty, the discomfort, and I wish we wouldn’t have to issue any fines. Unfortunately, in other countries as well, before the issue of enforcement was introduced, it was hard to get the public to follow the instructions that are meant to protect its health.

“In the past month, we distributed more than 230,000 masks to citizens who were not wearing masks. The fine is a last resort. First we provide information to the public. Since the enforcement of the face mask regulation began two and a half months ago, we have issued some 40,000 fines for not wearing a mask.”

Police official Maya Botzer said that of the 900 requests to cancel fines, 30% have been accepted.

Chairman MK Rabbi Asher said, “Regarding the inspection powers, the accessibility and extensive deployment due to the addition of several thousand inspectors, along with the sensitivity of the mayors, some of who are praying that they won’t have to deal with this matter, doubles the deterrence power, which saves lives. I trust the local authorities and the supervision of Israel Police.”

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